Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012 Reading List

I've seen a couple other people do this and since I read a whole lot more this year than I normally do, I thought it would be a fun thing to do!

Here's what I read last year... (* means I can't remember if I read this in 2011 or 2012)

Cross Cultural Servanthood (Duane Elmer) A required read; a little dry for me (although I'm sure many would disagree!) but I did learn a lot about the importance of defining servanthood according to my "host culture" instead of my own culture (the two can be very different!)

Cry of the Soul (Dan B Allender & Tremper Longman) Required; again a little dry (and again I'm sure many would disagree!) but it helped me to see how God has designed our emotions to draw us closer to Him

Growing Through Stress (Kath Donovan?) (I can't find this one on Amazon for some reason) Required; I somewhat enjoyed reading this book (the technical explanations were kind of boring for me) and I learned a lot about myself through this one. It caused me to think about what makes me feel stressed and how I deal with it, and helped me to think about what helps me to relax and avoid the "bad stress" from building up. (yes, there is apparently such a thing as "good stress" that I didn't know existed!)

Real Sex (Lauren Winner) Required; Although I probably never would have picked up this book by choice because I thought chastity only applied to singles, I really enjoyed it. It really opened my eyes to the fact that chastity (purity) is not just something for singles to practice, but it also applies to married people too.

Sabbath Keeping (Lynne Babb) Required; I really loved this book! I had never really thought much about what it means to "keep the Sabbath" but this book really convinced me of the importance of having a Sabbath. I had always thought that Sunday was the only option for a "true Sabbath", but the author made me realize that any day can be a Sabbath... all you are doing is setting aside a day (or half a day) for the Lord, resting in Him and dedicating that time to Him. And, that might look different for everyone! What is resting for some might feel more like work for others, so it's all about finding out what rest means for you. I wish I was more dedicated to having a regular Sabbath (especially since Sundays here are so busy!) but I'm hoping to do some half day Sabbaths once we start taking Mondays off. I highly recommend this book!!

Sacred Marriage (Gary Thomas) Required; This book was really good! I read it with Bobby which I really enjoyed doing. I recommend this book for both single and married people as it really changes your definition of marriage. I think it would have been great to have this perspective before we got married, but of course it's not too late. The main idea of the book is 'what if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?' It is a little long, but definitely worth reading! Someday I'd like to read Sacred Influence too.

Search for Significance (Robert McGee) Required; I also did the workbook with this one (as the Christar counselor recommended) and really liked it. As you can tell from some of the titles further on, I have some issues with people pleasing and finding my identity in Christ! I really like the resources this book had (charts and "activities" and I think it's a book that all Christians can benefit from reading.

Survival Kit for Overseas Living (L Robert Kohls) Required; To be honest, I didn't really enjoy this one too much... it was a required reading and I did learn things from it, but it is pretty geared toward business people if I remember correctly. Also, since I have previous cross-cultural living experiences and a lot of training in this area already, some of it felt repetitive. It is good for first-timers though!

Victory Over the Darkness (Neil Anderson) Required; Another book that I'd recommend for all Christians. It also has a lot of great resources and powerful Scripture references to remind you of who you are in Christ!

When People are Big and God is Small (Edward Welch) Required; This one taught me a lot about the dangers of fearing man more than fearing God... and I'd probably recommend this one to all Christians too. One thing I discovered in reading all these books about self-esteem and identity is that I'm not alone in my struggle to fight thinking more about what others think about me more than what God thinks of me!

Surrender to Love (David Benner) This one was recommended to me by a counselor and I really loved it. It is the kind of book you have to read slowly to let everything sink in. It's really easy to read, but it makes much more of an "impact" when you read it slowly in little chunks at a time. It basically just reminded me of the importance of just being with the Lord and resting in His mercy and grace rather than focusing on what I'm doing for the Lord and earning His approval. This is another one I recommend to all Christians.

The Power of a Praying Wife* (Stormie Omartian) This is a book I got on sale shortly after we got married but never got around to reading it until last year (I think... it may have been 2011 when I finished it, but I don't remember) I really loved this book! It's broken into 30 chapters with specific prayers at the end of each chapter and Scriptures to go with the theme of the chapter. Since it is 30 chapters, I have put sticky tabs on each prayer and usually pray one each day for Bobby. I have found it really beneficial to have guided and specific prayers for him, praying in ways that I might not have thought of praying for otherwise.

A Confident Heart (Renee Swope) This was one I got free for Kindle and I'm really glad I read it. It also has some great resources in it and I'll likely end up reading it again sometime. I really like Renee Swope's writing and I actually subscribe to a daily devotional she's part of (Proverbs 31 Ministries).

Becoming Fearless: My Ongoing Journey of Learning to Trust God (Michelle Aguilar) This was another free one :) Michelle was the winner of a season of The Biggest Loser and the subtitle really attracted me to it. I must confess that although I enjoyed the book, there wasn't as much spiritual substance to it as I was expecting there to be. It was neat to hear about all the behind the scenes stuff from the show though.

Choosing to SEE (Mary Beth Chapman) (I borrowed this e-book from the library!) This was by far one of the best books I've ever read! The Chapman's have a really powerful testimony and they've done a fantastic job of bringing much glory to God through their lives, especially in the midst of a horrible tragedy! I have a much greater appreciation for Steven's music now. I also have a greater understanding of the depth of grief that goes along with losing a child. I now understand that it never really goes away and those who have lost a child will never "get over it" as society seems to expect them to. Although it was really sad in some parts and difficult to read because of the reality of the situation, I HIGHLY recommend this book!

Christmas at Harringtons (Melody Carlson) This was just a "for fun" fiction book I read last month because it was Christmas :) (and this one was free too!)

The Christmas Dog (Melody Carlson) Reading the last book was so much fun I decided to read one more... this one was free too!

How to Declutter Your Home for Simple Living* (Judith Turnbridge) I read this one with Bobby when we were in the process of moving/shipping things to Japan and it was pretty good. Although I don't honestly remember a lot about it, I think it was a helpful reminder to hold things loosely and keep life simple! :)

In the Presence of My Enemies (Gracia Burnham) This was another powerful book that I really enjoyed. It was a little long, but still good. I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to be in a situation like Gracia and her husband were in! It really opened my eyes to just how good we have it here in Japan and how blessed we are... the gift of having a Bible to read every day really stood out to me from this book.

Kiss Me Like You Mean It: Solomon's Crazy in Love How-To Manual* (David Clarke) It seems like since I can't remember much about this one or the de-cluttering one, it must mean I read them in 2011! I read this one with Bobby too and it was a good reminder of the importance of keeping the romance and passion alive in your marriage. It was a pretty good "light read" for us.

The Japanese Mind: The Goliath Explained (Robert Christopher) Required; this one was my last required read to finish and it was one of the hardest!! We basically read it in the car all summer while we were traveling. It's a good book, but it's a little out-dated now and it has a lot of topics I consider to be quite boring! I did learn some things though and I'm grateful I had Bobby to keep me motivated to read it :)

Skinny: A Novel (Laura L Smith) This was another free one... I think it was one of the first "for fun" books I got to read after finishing all my required reading this summer. I liked it... but maybe that's because I like "teeny-bopper" books and movies! Seriously though, I did learn a lot about eating disorders and it made me more aware of what a struggle that is for some girls.

The Atonement Child (Francine Rivers) I've read this one before (maybe in High School), but I remembered it being really good so I wanted to read it again. I borrowed this e-book from the library too! I don't think I enjoyed it as much as the first time because I remembered the basic story line, but it was still good. Another book that gives you a new perspective on things!

Reclaiming Lily (Patti Lacy) Another free one :) It's a fiction book about a couple that adopts a girl from China, and ends up "running into" her older sister. It was "so-so" in my opinion.

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption (Katie Davis) I've been wanting to read this book for a while because it's about Uganda but the libraries didn't have it... then I came to Japan and a co-worker had it so I borrowed it from her! I have to say that while I enjoyed it, it wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be. I guess because so many people had "talked it up", I had high expectations for it. But, I did like it, and I think Katie does a wonderful job of painting the picture of what life in Uganda is like.

I think that's all... but I could be forgetting some! I had no idea I had read this much until I started making my list (and didn't realize how long this would take until I was too far in!) 2012 was a year for reading for me for 3 main reasons... I had a lot of Christar required reading to do; we did a ton of traveling; and I got a Kindle (and we have this great site that we get free Christian books from all the time... check out

I really do love to read... especially when it's "for fun" (books I get to choose) and I hope I can read lots this year too... although it is hard while in full time language study! Maybe I should start going to bed earlier and reading before bed!

Right now I'm reading A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot (Amy Carmichael's biography) and it's really good... it's pretty long and I wish I had more time to read so I could finish it! As a team, we're going to work through A Vision of the Possible in the next few months. There's a lot of other books I'd like to read... but we'll see how this year goes! :)

Happy Reading to all!! Feel free to let me know any good books you're reading or have read that I should read too! :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

First Post of 2013...

Hello faithful followers!

I've been wanting to do a "year in review" post for a few days now, but I've managed to bump it pretty low on my to-do list this week! (by they way, I'm on vacation this week and loving it!)

Just now I scrolled down to see a list of my blogs this year to help me make up my highlight list, but I was a little shocked to see I've only written 11 posts in 2012! 2009 was 84 posts, 2010 was 48 and 2011 was 39! Guess I've slowly been getting worse at this! It does make me sad though because I really do love to blog... and I love having a record of what's happened in our lives. I think the same thing has happened in my journaling life... I used to journal all the time... but I hardly ever do now! I guess you could say that is one of my hopes for 2013... get back into journaling! Bobby and I are going to be taking Mondays off starting in February and I'm hoping to use Monday morning as my "extended quiet time"... which will likely include journaling.

Anyway, Here's just a glimpse of what we've been up to this past year... I think if I had to choose one word to sum it up, 2012 would be the year of transitions!

January started off in a way I never would have expected... Bobby and I spent New Year's Eve (including the countdown!) in the ER in Regina where I ended up getting a blood transfusion! I have a feeling this is probably a but of a surprise for some of you to hear because I didn't say anything about it before, but I just didn't want to worry people... and it was kind of embarrassing to talk about! I won't go into details because I know that's too much info, but basically my body wasn't functioning as it is supposed to every month and I lost a lot of blood in a short period of time. I was so weak that I couldn't even stand up for longer than a few seconds and of course I was ghostly white (for the record, looking like a ghost can really get you moving in the ER!) I'm grateful for the wonderful care I received both in Winnipeg and Regina and I have a new appreciation for good health... and blood donors!!!

I also finished up working at Siloam (I was there over Christmas to help with the Christmas rush in Donation Processing) and that's about it for January. Oh, we did get the news that I got scheduled for a green card interview in Montreal in February!

February as mentioned, we went to Montreal for my green card interview! Although we hit some bumps that day, all went fine and we were surprised to hear that day that my application had been approved and we were cleared to move to the States! (we didn't know we would get that news so soon) While we were in Montreal, we were able to meet up with my old neighbours from Caronport who live in Montreal now. They were so kind and generous and showed us a lot of fun things! We got to go to the Snow Festival (I forget the name) which was really fun! It was really neat to catch up with them. My sister used to babysit their kids, who are now in University!
Looking out over Montreal
We love Barrier Bay!
We also got to go back to our honeymoon cabin for 2 days which was a blast!

March was pretty quiet... unless my memory is failing me! We celebrated our 2 year engagement anniversary on the 31st by going back to "our spot" at the Forks. This month was also the one year anniversary of the 3.11 earthquake in Japan.

Back in "our spot" 2 years later!
April was another quiet month according to my blog and picture files... We celebrated my 26th birthday on the 26th by going to Stella's for breakfast and going to the zoo (among other things I love to do!) I'm sure we were really busy this month getting ready to move out of our apartment for May 1st. I'm so blessed to have a husband who works so hard to make me happy! He had a lot on his plate when my birthday rolled around this year and yet he intentionally set aside the day to be with me and do the things I love to do :)

Breakfast at Stella's!
Enjoying the conservatory
the zoo!!
May was one of our busiest months of 2012! We lived in 2 countries and I can't even count the number of beds we slept in! At the beginning of May we headed west to Calgary/Edmonton. In Edmonton we represented the Winnipeg Japanese Alliance Church at a Canadian Japanese Ministry's conference. We were able to make a lot of connections there and had a great time. We also got to see one of my elementary school friends (actually I think I would have been 4 or 5 when we first met in NS!) and met her husband for the first time!
Rhoda! Fist time we've seen each other in 8 years!
After Edmonton, we headed to Calgary where we got to visit the Japanese church I did my practicum in before I went to Japan (while I was in CrossTraining) It was so great to see so many familiar faces and see some of the kids a lot more grown up than when I was there in 2007! After our church visits, we headed west to the Rockies and enjoyed one night in Canmore and did some sightseeing in Banff too. It was SO beautiful and we loved every minute of it! Here's just a few of our favorites...

Can't pass up an opportunity to have Cow's ice cream! 
So much beautiful scenery! 

Lake Louise (still frozen in May!)
Bobby got to say he's been to BC because we drove to the border , took a picture and turned around!
We also got to be around for "baby K's" first birthday which was really special for me. (We planned our move around this) I absolutely love being an auntie and can't get enough of this girl!

Shortly after K's birthday, we said our goodbye's and headed south! Everything went so smooth with my paperwork... and the guys at the airport were actually excited to process my papers because they don't get to do this kind of paperwork very often! I don't remember if it was May or June, but shortly after we moved, I got my green card!!! 

June had us in Texas for a week for our pre-departure orientation with Christar. It was a lot less stressful than I was expecting so that was great! 

We also got to attend my other nieces' dance recital which was really fun! She is so adorable and it was so fun to get to spend so much time with her this summer.

July was another busy month! At the end of June and the first week of July we went to Myrtle Beach with Bobby's family. Although it was a little crowded at times, we had a lot of fun and we made a lot of memories! We even got to have lunch with my aunt and uncle (Mom's brother). I don't remember the last time I saw them because they live in the States. We also celebrated our 2nd anniversary and Bobby's birthday this month

Uncle Dave, Aunt Roseanne, and my cousin, Dylan
Happy Anniversary!
August was full of summer fun... I'll let the pictures do the talking!

So special to witness Drew's baptism!
Helping at a supporting church's VBS- representing "team Japan"
We also got to zip up to Niagara Falls and see my best friend Angela and spent a few days with her and her husband one last time before they head to Spain and we headed to Japan!

September brought a big change for us! We said our goodbyes... (again!) and we landed in Japan!! Of course we are grateful for the last 2 years of "waiting", but it sure was good to be back! After a few weeks of waiting, we moved into our apartment which we now love! (after having dealt with the bats, that is!) We enjoyed being back in ministry again and reuniting with old friends.

October brought a little bit of routine to our lives... we got settled and our home started to feel like home. in mid October we had our annual Christar retreat and were joined by some Pioneer missionaries nearby (including a fellow Canadian!) I also started full time language study!

November was apparently an uneventful month because I don't have any pictures or blogs to draw from! I guess I was just busy with language study!

December was a very busy ministry month... we had the ladies' luncheon, kids' Christmas party, candle services and lots of other activities! 

Ladies' Luncheon
Mrs T (a former English student)
our tree :)
Nijigaoka Christmas Eve service
My language teacher came to the Christmas Eve service with her daughter!
Hirao candle service
I guess that's all I can think of for highlights of 2012... although I'm sure I'm missing some things! We are grateful for all the ways the Lord led us and provided for us through the year and are looking forward to what this year holds for us!! Happy New Year!! :)